Has our financial mess brought us to the brink of getting beyond the culture wars?
It’s a question that we might see play out on Capitol Hill in the coming months as the new majority seeks to make the late pro-life congressman Henry Hyde proud, by defunding Planned Parenthood and prohibiting taxpayer funding of abortion.
“Hell no,” Speaker John Boehner said when he was in the minority, to the conscience-offending comprehensive health-care legislation that congressional Democrats and the White House insisted on. Now that he’s speaker, the first big vote under his watch was to repeal the president’s signature piece of legislation.
What do you do after a repeal — a repeal that is stalled in the obstinate Harry Reid–run Senate? Move on to HR-3, to do something that the old leadership claimed it had done: keep taxpayer money out of the business of funding abortion. As Boehner said while introducing HR-3: “A ban on taxpayer funding of abortion is the will of the people and ought to be the law of the land. But current law — particularly as enforced by this administration — does not reflect the will of the people.” For anyone who still isn’t sure we were lied to, former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel made things clear on the campaign trail recently — just in time for the repeal vote and the rollout of the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.”
Emanuel is now a candidate for mayor of Chicago. Pressed by a primary opponent, former senator Carol Moseley Braun, who accused him of throwing “women under the bus” — women who don’t oppose abortion, that is — Emanuel told a Chicago Tribune forum that he “came up with an idea for an executive order to allow the Stupak Amendment not to exist by law but by executive order, and it was good enough that Nancy Pelosi, Jan Schakowsky here in Chicago, Rosa DeLauro, Anna Eshoo — a number of women who are held — Nita Lowey — who are held up as honors by people like NARAL and Planned Parenthood, who supported that bill and supported the way to make progress.” They were fine with it, of course, because there would be no real prohibition in the executive order.
Carol Moseley Braun got the truth out of Emanuel because he needs his base to win the campaign. But back on Capitol Hill, Boehner and other pro-life members have support that is much broader. We got a little hint of that in the enthusiasm among many freshman members for an effort to defund Planned Parenthood during this Congress.
“Ending taxpayer funding of abortion and getting Planned Parenthood’s hand out of the pocket of taxpayers are clearly crossover issues,” says Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. “Social conservatives as well as fiscal conservatives can generally agree that the government has no business being in the business of funding or subsidizing abortion.” He adds a pat on the back for HR-3: “The new leadership is clearly up on their history. They know they have no room for equivocation — promise made must be promise kept, and that is what they doing.”
As I write, though, I can hear the critics, even among conservatives: There they go again — rosaries on my ovaries. Or, less crassly: Culture warriors on the march.
But you don’t have to agree with me in opposing legal abortion to see that HR-3 makes good common sense.